One of the first and most frequent questions we are asked by current and prospective clients regarding their potential personal injury claim is, “What is my case worth?” That is, how much can the client expect to receive should there be a settlement, judgment or verdict in their favor? While this question is very fact specific, there are a number of factors that are taken into consideration when calculating a person’s damages, which are discussed below.
A person’s physical and emotional injuries related to an accident or incident for which treatment is sought result in the accumulation of medical bills, which are included in calculating someone’s damages. These include everything from an ambulance ride to the hospital from the scene of the accident to post-accident counseling sessions should they be needed. In South Carolina, you are permitted to claim the total amount of medical bills charged, including what was paid by your health insurance, not just the amount you paid out-of-pocket. Generally, if you have health insurance and they pay for some or all of the medical services provided, they may assert a lien on whatever recovery you receive from any defendants in your case.
Additionally, any estimated future medical expenses can be included when totaling your damages. At Hughey Law Firm, our clients at times will need ongoing medical treatment, such as continued pain management therapy, after having suffered injuries due to someone else’s neglect or intentional actions. In these instances, the value of future medical treatment is calculated and added into the person’s total damages.
Job Related Losses
Any missed time from work related to the accident or incident in which you were involved is also included in your damages. Missed time includes, but is not limited to, time missed due to injuries, hospitalization, doctor appointments, rehabilitation, and lack of transportation to work if you and your vehicle were involved in a car accident. If your injuries were of the kind that limit your ability to perform your work duties, you may also be entitled to claim loss or impairment of earning capacity as well.
You are also entitled to recover the cost of damage to your property if that damage was caused by the neglect or intentional actions of another party.
South Carolina defines noneconomic damages as, “nonpecuniary damages arising from pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium, injury to reputation, humiliation, other nonpecuniary damages, and any other theory of damages including, but not limited to, fear of loss, illness, or injury.” S.C. Code Ann. § 15-32-210(9). In layman’s terms, noneconomic damages are non-monetary losses incurred by the injured party for which monetary recovery may be available. Noneconomic damages are the most controversial, disputed and regulated types of damages available to injured persons due to their being difficulties with calculating valuation.
Limitations on Noneconomic Damages in South Carolina
South Carolina, like many other states, places limitations on the amount a person may claim in noneconomic damages related to their accident or incident. In medical malpractice claims brought against a single health care provider, noneconomic damages are capped at $350,000 for each claimant. S.C. Code Ann. § 15-32-220(A). For medical malpractice claims brought against multiple health care providers, each claimant may receive upwards of $350,000 in noneconomic damages per health care provider, with the limit of total received from all health care providers being $1,050,000. S.C. Code Ann. § 15-32-220(B).
Punitive damages, another form of noneconomic damages available in South Carolina, have upward limits of $500,000, or three times the injured party’s compensatory (monetary) damages, whichever is greater. S.C. Code Ann. § 15-32-530(A).
As you can see, there are numerous ways in which compensation is available should you or a loved one be injured due to another’s fault. These factors should be considered both individually and holistically when calculating the total amount of monetary recovery to which you may be entitled. Contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer, like those at Hughey Law Firm, may be in your best interest to ensure that you receive what you are owed.